(PartiallyPolitics.com) – In Arizona, customs officials have seized 109 pounds of organs from an endangered fish. It is estimated that a total of 91 totoaba swim bladders, also known as “cocaine of the sea” were seized. The organs were being transported hidden under frozen fish filet commercial shipments.
Enforcement officers have noted that on the black market, the fish organs are expected to catch from $910,000 up to $1,365,000.
The seizure occurred on October 17 at the San Luis, Arizona port of entry to Mexico. Five months before this seizure the state had seized its largest total haul of swim bladders to date which was valued at $2.7 million. That seizure was the second largest in U.S. history.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has reported that Totoaba fish are usually found in the Gulf of California in Mexico and can reach up to 220 pounds in weight and 6.5 feet in length.
Totoaba have become highly valued for their high collagen content. It is also believed that their swim bladder, which allows them to stay afloat, can be beneficial to skin vitality, circulation, and fertility. As such, the swim bladders are commonly used as a cultural Asian delicacy and have a high value in traditional Chinese medicine.
The U.S. Endangered Species Act of 1979 protects the possession, transportation, and selling of this species. The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora also prohibits the species from being traded internationally. Despite this, the endangered fish continues to be sold on the black market where in the U.S. it sells for around $5,000 while in some Asian countries, it can fetch as much as $10,000.
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